Patna: Nearly 1,900 people died as of Tuesday from the severe floods that inundated several parts of South Asia. The swollen rivers have started to recede but millions of people affected by the deluge are still hungry and homeless.
Aid workers struggled to deliver supplies to some 28 million people displaced across India, Bangladesh and Nepal by the worst monsoon-triggered flooding in decades, with some areas inaccessible because of the high waters.
In India’s worst-hit state, Bihar, 12 million people have seen their homes and farmland partially or totally submerged after the heaviest rainfall in 30 years.
An overcrowded vessel - one of scores of country boats ferrying to safety from rooftops - capsized late on Monday in the impoverished state, claiming the lives of at
least 65 people, the police said. In another incident, six women drowned in a boat accident.
The long wait: Flood victims wait on a railway track to collect air-dropped food supplies in a flood-hit area of Samastipur, Bihar, on Tuesday.
The Union home ministry said 1,258 people have died due to monsoon-related accidents from June through 1 August, but numerous deaths have been reported in the last six days, bringing the toll to more than 1,500.
Nearly half of the deaths were in the last two weeks alone, with floods submerging parts of northern Uttar Pradesh, eastern Orissa and northeastern Assam, affecting another 6.5 million people in the three states.
In Bihar, the government’s disaster management chief says relief operations are “in full swing”, with millions of kilos of rice and wheat distributed, but many villagers say they are going hungry.
“We have not received any relief or even a fistful of grain in the past 15 days,” said Shauki Sani a resident of Majhouli village in Bihar’s ravaged Darbhanga district, 125km north-east of Patna. “Our entire family is going hungry.”
In Bangladesh, the seven-month-old military-backed government has appealed to political parties, wealthy citizens and foreign countries to help rush food supplies to nine million flood victims. Flood-hit areas reported acute shortages of food and other items even as officials said 8,000 tonnes of food had been distributed since late July.
The monsoon toll in Bangladesh, a delta nation prone to floods, stood at 282, with more than half of the deaths occurring in the last 10 days, officials said.
In Nepal, at least 94 people have died in landslides and floods since the beginning of June, according to the United Nations (UN) office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs. More than 330,000 people have also been affected, mostly in the southern plains bordering Bihar, UN officials said, adding that UN agencies were in the process of supplying food aid to the worst-affected areas.